THE Singleton Greyhounds have put the safety of their players first - and withdrawn from the Newcastle and Hunter Community Rugby League competition in 2020.
But, they're not alone, with the Greta-Branxton Colts doing likewise in men's A grade, too.
Both Bengalla Hunter Valley Group 21 clubs were scheduled to contest the amateur format, which was due to kick off last weekend.
However, new concerns surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19) over the past week played a major role in the organisations' respective decisions.
"Yes, we officially pulled out, effective today (Thursday, July 23)," Singleton Greyhounds president Brad Schultz said.
"That's all our senior sides - firsts, reserves, under-18s and ladies league tag.
"It's regrettable but player welfare is paramount.
"On Tuesday (July 21), following the first round postponement, Newcastle and Hunter Community Rugby League wanted the clubs to consider a number of different options with Central Coast coming on board.
"From our perspective, we were worried about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in NSW, especially Port Stephens and East Maitland.
"As well, Central Coast is fairly close to Sydney.
"It was too much of a risk to our community to continue on with everyone's health being our number one priority.
"We then put it to the players at training, on Tuesday and Wednesday, who ultimately made the call.
"I can't blame them; I was concerned, too.
"The Greyhounds don't want to place our players, their parents and grandparents at risk for a simple game of footy.
"With Central Coast taking part in the comp, logistics would have been an issue as well.
"We were so close yet so far from playing.
"Everyone worked their butts off to get where we are and made a lot of sacrifices, however 2020 is not to be."
Schultz said the Greyhounds would now turn their attention to 2021 - and Group 21 again.
"We'll catch up and have a drink [this weekend], then start planning for next season," he told the Argus.
"We'd like to thank our players, their families, sponsors and supporters for sticking with us this year.
"We promise we will be back bigger and better in 2021."
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